Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The First Law: The Blade Itself Review (spoiler free)

I finished reading The Blade Itself last night. The novel had a lot of hype and acclaim, and so I was expecting great things from it. Fortunately, I was not mislead, and I closed the book with a profound sense of excitement and curiosity.

The Blade Itself is the first book of The First Law trilogy. Written by UK author Joe Abercrombie, the book is a realistic, brutal and bloody look at the fantastic. The book starts with Logen Ninefingers fleeing from a group of Flatheads, and I was hooked from the get-go. Logen gets separated from his travelling group and each assumes the other died. He continues on his own. The next character introduced is Inquisitor Sand dan Glokta, a crippled torturer with a dark past. The torture scenes from this book are bloody, but deeply enjoyable. Glokta is charged with getting to the bottom of a conspiracy by any means he sees fit. Enter Bayaz, the First of the Magi. He's a name everyone in the Union knows, but he's a legend, not a real person. Or is he? Finally, Jezal dan Luthar is a Captain in the army, born of high and noble blood, and training for the annual Contest, dreaming of glory and honor.

There are more characters in the novel, making fun and entertaining chapters to read and reflect on. Dogman. Ferro. West. Too many to write on, but they all have a roll to play in the plot. By the end of the novel it almost feels like this book is just an introduction or prologue to what is to come.

Abercrombie hints at magic, but nothing too deep. He writes of the First Law and the Second Law. He talks about the Shanka and the Eaters, never fully describing them, which is unsettling and immensely entertaining.

The writing style reminds me of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. The use of profanity and vulgar words are frequent, but not over-the-top and do not detract from the story. Keeping the "magic" as a mystery is also like GRRM.

My favorite character is probably Glokta, but I'm equally intrigued by Logen. I can't wait to see where this story is going, especially for these two. Hopefully I'll get my copy of Before They Are Hanged soon. Overall, The Blade Itself is another reminder why the fantasy genre does not have to be boring and cliche. People like Joe Abercrombie, Pat Rothfuss, and Brandon Sanderson are breaking boundaries and re-defining the field. I can recommend this book easily to you, but be warned, it's brutal and will hook you in, kind of like the way a torturer's blade may pull your intestines out and have you screaming for more.


Krista said...

I so have this book on my self and will be getting to it over the next few months with my book club. I'm super excited about it, and more so after your great review here!

logankstewart said...

Awesome. A book club reading and discussing TBI? Cool. Enjoy when you read it. Maybe you'll post some comments here about your discussions or something for the future?

Krista said...

Oh, yes, sure Logan will do. We'll be reading the whole First Law Trilogy starting around September or November. It just depends, because we're currently reading and discussing The Sword of Shannara trilogy by Terry Brooks, followed by Brent Weeks Night Angel trilogy and then The First Law Trilogy. We take each book one by one, break it up into sections, and speculate on the characters and the ending to come, really cool!
Er...Yikes...When I write it all down it's a massive list to get through, but I absolutely love doing it, it's just too much fun!

logankstewart said...

Cool. Beware, if you've not read Terry Brooks, you might get hooked. Simply ignoring most of the Sword of Shannara is probably the best thing you can do if you find yourself not enjoying the adventure. (I'd like to hear your thoughts on that, too.)

Brooks was the author that got me hooked on fantasy novels. I really loved Elfstones and Wishsong, but the next series, the Heritage of Shannara, was my all-time favorite story arc.

That sounds like a fun book club you've got there.

Krista said...

The Sword of Shannara is the first book I've read of Brooks, and I'm only maybe 12 or so chapters in. However, I do have a few thoughts of Chapters 1-7 (character development and thoughts really) if you want to hear, but, mind you, the post might be a little long on this site... LOL!?

We'll be reading the Elfstone and The Name of the Wind (I recommended Rothfuss to them and it'll be their first time reading it, however, it'll be my third! Super excited about this discussion!!!) in August, and then the Wishsong in September, as well as Brent Weeks. We read two books a month, or at least we try to LOL! I like Brooks so far, so I'm sure that the other two books will be even better considering this was his first novel.

David Wagner said...

Loved the First Law series myself... there are great things ahead of you, should you continue the series... a few more days until I can get my grubby little paws on Best Served Cold. Until then, what to read, what to read..?

Krista said...

Hey, Logan, before I posted my thoughts of TSoS ch. 1-7 I was just wondering where you would like me to share it at? I wasn't sure if you just wanted me to post it anywhere or not seeing as it'll be a little long?

But, hey, if you've changed your mind, because it'll be a little long no hard feelings, it's totally cool. Just thought I'd ask before I go turning your blog into a book discussion LOL!

Have a Great Weekend!

marky said...

Brilliant review mate.

You're so going to enjoy the rest of the books.

I wish I were you. It makes me want to read them again, so bad.

logankstewart said...

@David: I'll definitely be continuing this series.

@Krista: Since I don't typically post on weekends, I'll create a special weekend post. The instructions'll be on the blog.

@Marky: Thanks for the compliment, and I'm sorry you don't get to re-experience the first-time experience?